Press release

£4 million to fund free nursery places in 15 areas

From today 15 local authorities will benefit from £4 million of government funding to provide free early learning and childcare to the most disadvantaged two year olds in their communities.

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

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The trials will test out ways of making sure that enough nursery places and staff are available in the right areas so that every disadvantaged two-year-old can benefit. They will also look at how 15 hours a week of free early learning and childcare for two-, three- and four-year-olds could be offered more flexibly to help support parents juggle work and family life.

Children’s Minister Sarah Teather said:

High quality early education is the foundation of a child’s healthy development and future success at school and beyond. It’s simply not good enough that children from poorer families are less likely to access good quality early education than their wealthier peers - even though they stand to benefit the most.

That’s why I’m pleased to announce that 15 local authorities have been provided with funding to look at how best to deliver the free entitlement for the two-year-olds that need it the most. We hope that local authorities across the country will learn from these pilots before the scheme is rolled out nationally to all disadvantaged two year olds in 2013.

In addition, from today a new, fairer and more transparent funding system for nurseries and other early years providers will be implemented in all local authorities. The Early Years Single Funding Formula will require local authorities to fund providers by the number of children rather than places. This will mean that the funding follows the child and won’t be wasted on empty places. It will help ensure that nurseries are making the best effort to fill their places by attracting and encouraging more families to take up free nursery education for their children.

To make sure that funding is focused on supporting children from disadvantaged families who will benefit most from nursery education, every local formula must also include an amount of money to specifically target the most needy children.

Notes to editors

  1. The Government confirmed last year that it was protecting funding for free early education for three- and four-year-olds and it would be providing additional funding to extend free early education to the most disadvantaged two-year-olds.
  2. The successful local authorities who will be taking part in the trial are:
Local authority Key issues being addressed Funding amount
Derbyshire Improving work with health professionals to support the most vulnerable two year olds. Increasing the capability of providers to support families. £398,554
Gloucestershire Improving the quality of provision with a focus on Looked After Children and Children with SEN. £141,881
Hartlepool Improve outreach through Children’s Centres. Increase capacity – including by supporting schools to work with two year olds. Trial allowing parents to transfer unused hours of provision into the following year. £134,204
Hertfordshire Trial allowing parents to transfer unused hours of provision into the following year. Improve quality - including through mentoring and uptake of qualifications. £398,665
Manchester & Tameside Consortium Encouraging expansion of existing providers through business support advice. Range of activity to improve the quality of provision. £241,700
Medway Establishing "lead” settings for two year olds including through targeting funding and deployment of Early Years Professionals (EYPs). £275,000
N Yorkshire Increasing workforce skills – with a focus on improving the language development of two year olds and working with parents to improve the Home Learning Environment. £100,000
Northamptonshire Increasing the number of childminders who reach the quality standards for delivery of the free entitlement. £145,500
Rotherham Increasing flexibility of provision for two year olds and creating new sustainable places. £396,000
 Southampton Enhancing data systems to improve payments to providers, reduce burdens and ensure timely, accurate data.  £43,171
 Stoke-on-Trent   Range of measures to improve the quality of provision for two year olds as identified during the previous pilot stage – for example challenging settings to create an environment more conducive to the development of children at that age.  £383,864
 Sunderland  Improving the quality of settings currently rated "satisfactory”. Increasing the demand among parents for childminders.  £365,803
 Sutton & Merton consortium    Increasing the quality and capacity of childminders.  £130,000
 Tower Hamlets  Learning from work in Barking & Dagenham to increase the proportion of settings rated good or better. Work with the Institute of Education to monitor settings.  £392,802
 Walsall & Wolverhampton consortium  Increasing capacity of provision for two year olds by encouraging settings to stretch their provision over 52 weeks of the year – i.e. more children for fewer hours each week – and encouraging parents to take this up.  Plus a range of measures to increase quality.  £400,000

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Published 1 April 2011